Twenty-five years ago, Dr. Mary McAllister Shea, along with a small group of philanthropists and parents, envisioned what Kids Included Together could be. Mary Shea was a leader, strategist, coach, and mentor. She ignited a passion for inclusion in everyone she met. In 1999, Mary became the first full-time Executive Director of KIT.
Mary was a strong advocate for inclusion. She brought her whole heart to her work and was as authentic as they come. She developed real friendships with KIT clients and partners all over the country. She believed in relationships and cultivated meaningful core values through our services. Mary knew that we couldn’t create change without building trusting relationships – and that’s how we still approach our work at KIT today.
Mary had over 35 years of experience working with children with disabilities and was a frequent presenter at regional and national conferences. The National AfterSchool Association awarded her their coveted Flame of Inspiration Award for her pioneering work on disability inclusion in the after school field. She later went on to become a consultant at KIT, as well as pursuing her own private consulting business.
Mary held a Doctorate in Education; Educational Leadership, a Masters in Public Health; Maternal and Child Health, and a Bachelor of Science in Occupational Therapy. Her commitment to inclusion was prevalent with many published articles, and a dissertation that focused on examining organizational change as related to the inclusion of individuals with disabilities in community youth organizations. Throughout her career, Mary diligently worked to help provide all children the quality programs they deserve.
Mary passed away in 2022. She will be remembered for the strong impact she made - not only at Kids Included Together, but in the continued fight for inclusion for all children. Many people that she recruited and mentored are still with KIT today and together, we are carrying Mary’s legacy into the future.